Britain braced for copycat terror attacks after soldier's killing
Britain is bracing not just for clashes with right-wing extremists but for possible copycat terror attacks after the brutal slaying of a young soldier on Wednesday.
London's Metropolitan Police said more than 1,000 officers will be sent to potential trouble spots with armed response units. Only a fraction of Britain's police officers are armed.
The attack was captured on video by witnesses and made for gruesome viewing; one man is seen, his hands red with blood, holding two butcher's knives as he angrily complained about the British government and troops in foreign lands. A lifeless body is seen on the street behind him.
Terror analysts say the attackers wanted the publicity to inspire copycat attacks, and that they are already seeing an increase in chatter on extremist websites calling for such attacks.
"We can see the tempo being raised," said Maajid Nawaz, a former jihadist who is now with the London-based anti-extremist Quilliam Foundation.
"One of the reasons why these guys acted in this theatrical way was because of the propaganda effect, so others would be inspired to do the same thing. The nature of these attacks are that they are so easy to do, and we have definitely seen an increase in chatter calling for such things since the attack."
A British government official confirmed the increase in chatter since Wednesday's attack but said no specific or credible plots had yet been detected.
Police investigating the murder were looking into whether the two suspected killers, British men of Nigerian descent, were part of a wider conspiracy.
The two suspects, aged 22 and 28, are under guard in hospitals after being shot and arrested by police following the murder of 25-year-old Afghan war veteran Lee Rigby. They have not yet been charged.
Detectives were also questioning another man and a woman, arrested on Thursday on suspicion of conspiracy to murder, as they tried to determine whether those responsible had links to militants in Britain or overseas.
"This is a large, complex and fast-moving investigation which continues to develop," police said.
"Many lines of inquiry are being followed … and the investigation is progressing well."
Additional reporting by Reuters